America feels like it’s unraveling.
And science is holding on by a thread.
In the first 100 days that Donald Trump has been in office, federal agencies have been silenced, funds have been frozen, and the newly proposed budget blueprint deals sweeping cuts to science and health agencies.
- President Donald Trump’s first budget request to Congress, calls for cutting the 2018 budget of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $6 billion. That’s a 20% budget cut! The NIH uses more than 80% of its budget on grant money to universities and other research centers, so this would cause thousands of institutions and many more scientists to suffer from the proposed cuts.
- The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Science would lose $900 million.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would take a 30% cut.
To understand Trump’s proposed budget better, watch this video by the vlogbrothers:
Why should you care?
Science is at the heart of almost every aspect of our daily lives. Without science, we wouldn’t have many of the technological and healthcare advances that we take for granted.
Our friends at NeuroTransmissions made this video to explain how important government funding is for scientific advancements. Watch it to understand how researchers at UCSD use funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study all sorts of neurological disorders and how the brain works.
What can you do to help?
1. March for Science
While these realities have left many scientists stunned in disbelief, it has also inspired many others to protest, resist, and become engaged like never before.
For many people, April 22, 2017 is going to be a day to remember. Not only is this Earth Day, a day devoted to celebrating our planet, but this will also be the day when thousands of people come together to March for Science. What is the #MarchForScience? Their mission statement explains it best:
“The March for Science is a celebration of science. It’s not only about scientists and politicians; it is about the very real role that science plays in each of our lives and the need to respect and encourage research that gives us insight into the world. Nevertheless, the march has generated a great deal of conversation around whether or not scientists should involve themselves in politics. In the face of an alarming trend toward discrediting scientific consensus and restricting scientific discovery, we might ask instead: can we afford not to speak out in its defense?
People who value science have remained silent for far too long in the face of policies that ignore scientific evidence and endanger both human life and the future of our world. New policies threaten to further restrict scientists’ ability to research and communicate their findings. We face a possible future where people not only ignore scientific evidence, but seek to eliminate it entirely. Staying silent is a luxury that we can no longer afford. We must stand together and support science.
The application of science to policy is not a partisan issue. Anti-science agendas and policies have been advanced by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and they harm everyone — without exception. Science should neither serve special interests nor be rejected based on personal convictions. At its core, science is a tool for seeking answers. It can and should influence policy and guide our long-term decision-making.
The March for Science champions and defends science and scientific integrity, but it is a small step in the process toward encouraging the application of science in policy. We understand that the most effective way to protect science is to encourage the public to value and invest in it.
The best way to ensure science will influence policy is to encourage people to appreciate and engage with science. That can only happen through education, communication, and ties of mutual respect between scientists and their communities — the paths of communication must go both ways. There has too long been a divide between the scientific community and the public. We encourage scientists to reach out to their communities, sharing their research and its impact on people’s everyday lives. We encourage them, in turn, to listen to communities and consider their research and future plans from the perspective of the people they serve. We must take science out of the labs and journals and share it with the world.”
With over 500 separate demonstrations planned around the world, researchers, lobbyists, and supporters will take to the streets to project an important global pro-science message. This event will be “the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.”
Take part in the collective energy of the global March for Science movement and make your voice heard!
To find out more about the March for Science and to find a march near you, visit this website: https://www.marchforscience.com/
2. Contact your representatives
To find out who your representative is and how you can reach them, visit this website and enter your address: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Or call the White House Comment line at: 202-456-1111
An example calling script:
“Hello, my name is (name) and I’m a constituent of (representative), living in (city) in (zipcode). I’m calling today to voice my concern about the President’s budget proposal. Among many other concerning cuts, this proposal outlines a 5.8 billion dollar cut to the NIH. Funding the NIH is crucial for supporting basic science research in this country – something America has been a leader in for decades – and jeopardizes the future of science and technology for generations. Cutting 20% of the NIH’s budget is absolutely unacceptable. I urge (representative) to advocate against this budget and the cuts that will threaten American science and scientific progress. Thank you for your time.”
3. Support the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health
For more information about the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and how you can support them, visit: https://fnih.org/
Image by Jooyeun Lee.